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'Au revoir' to English, demands French PM


Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault urged ministers to avoid using English words instead of French, after industrial renewal minister Arnaud Montebourg launched a new industrial sector for the elderly with the English title "Silver Economy".


French Socialist Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault wrote a letter to members of the government Thursday asking them to avoid using English words, even when dealing with technological innovations.

The request comes after Arnaud Montebourg, minister of industrial renewal, and Michèle Delaunay, minister for the elderly, announced they were creating a new industrial sector called “Silver Economy,” regrouping “all companies working with or for the elderly.”

Nearly a third of all English words are derived from French, according to some estimates. Many became part of the language after the Norman invasion of England in 1066 AD but others are more recent.

Penchant (17th century)

Parlance (14th century)

Bon mot (18th century)

Vanquish (14th century)

Taint (14th century)


They chose the English name “Silver Economy,” in reference to greying hair, because the sector is likely to open international export opportunities, a source in the ministers’ cabinet told leading French daily Le Figaro.


But Prime Minister Ayrault was not impressed. Ayrault sent out a memo the same day to all members of the government asking them to favour the French language as much as possible. In his note, he reminded ministers that the 1992 Constitution recognised French as the official language in both the administration and justice.

“Our language is able to express all of our contemporary issues, as well as describe all innovations in the fields of science and technology,” the note said according to Le Figaro.

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